January 2006 News

PM To Meet Shabbir, Yasin

24 January 2006
The Indian Express

New Delhi: With the Kashmir peace process firmly back on the government's agenda, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to meet other separatist leaders including JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabbir Shah. A delegation of Kashmiri Pandits has also been lined up to meet him. According to sources, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan is taking a keen interest in maintaining the continuity of the process. He is believed to have met the JKLF chief in his office in September, setting the stage for Malik's meeting with the Prime Minister. Singh's meeting with Malik, according to sources, could be as early as next month. When contacted in Srinagar, Malik refused to comment about his meeting with Narayanan. Instead, he said that he was waiting to meet the Prime Minister. 'So far, I have not got any invitation to meet him (Singh). But I will be in Delhi for my check- up in early February. Let's see if I get an invitation before that,' he said. On January 14, the Prime Minister had met People's Conference Chairman Sajjad Lone with the promise of institutionalising and broad-basing the dialogue process. On September 5, he had also met a Hurriyat delegation. Kashmir watchers say Malik was supposed to meet the Prime Minister last April, when Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was in New Delhi. 'In fact, the meeting was even fixed and the time decided. However, Malik did not show up at the last moment,' sources said. The back channels, meanwhile, continued to work with the Centre's interlocutors, including N N Vohra and bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah. Senior officials admitted that process had slowed down somewhat following Singh's meeting with the Hurriyat, as the Centre was trying to identify other groups and bring them on board for talks.


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